Europe’s Covid Challenges: Climate Change and Digitalization

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: European Commission
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: European Commission

“Europe’s most significant challenges before the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis will remain the same once this crisis is over: climate change, digitalization, and the EU’s position in the world,” said President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Friday (July 3).

Earlier, the College of Commissioners met via videoconference the Government of Germany for the beginning of the German Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Von der Leyen said that the start of the German Presidency came at a crucial point in time as the next six months would, to a large extent, determine the future of the EU.

“Not only must we overcome the (Covid) crisis, but rather we want to and we must also continue courageously along the path of modernization within the European Union,” she said.

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She reminded of the urgency of the task to forge an agreement on the NextGenerationEU and the long-term EU budget in the European Council, saying it was the crisis that ‘sets the pace’. “Every day we lose, we will be seeing people losing their jobs, companies going bust, and the weakening of our economies.”

President von der Leyen also invited David Sassoli, the President of the European Parliament, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, in her capacity as rotating Presidency of the Council, and Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, to a meeting on 8 July to take stock of progress and prepare the intensive political negotiations that lie ahead.

Von der Leyen also noted that the priorities of the German Presidency and the priority projects the Commission adopted were fully aligned – from climate change to digitalization to resilience.

She said the Commission would also be closely working with the German Presidency during the ‘decisive phase’ of the Brexit negotiations, as well as on external relations.

She stressed that the two sides working together can help Europe navigate its way through the Covid crisis with strength and unity, as well as make NextGenerationEU a catalyst for modernization in Europe.

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Rakesh Raman